Bioelectromagnetism

Book Reviews

BIOELECTROMAGNETISM

Principles and Applications of Bioelectric and Biomagnetic Fields

Jaakko Malmivuo and Robert Plonsey

Oxford University Press, New York, 1995. ISBN 0-19-505823-2. 482 pp. $98.00

Bioelectromagnetism, as defined by these authors is the "discipline that examines the electric, electromagnetic, and magnetic phenomena that arise in biological tissues." This book has as its central organizing theme the relation between electrical activity of excitable tissue and the electric and magnetic fields they create elsewhere in the body. It aims to "present bioelectromagnetism as a theoretical discipline".
Some of the 28 chapters introduce the reader to bioelectric phenomena of clinical importance: the EEG, ECG, functional electrical stimulation, cardiac pacing, magnetocardiography. But its distinction lies in its many chapters on more abstract topics such as volume conductor theory, source field models, theory of biomagnetic measurements, and so on. The book as a whole is comprehensive and well-organized, and nicely edited and produced.
Many potential readers will confuse the title with "bioelectromagnetics," which refers to another interdisciplinary field that is mostly concerned with biological effects of externally applied fields. This book has little to say about such matters.
Bioelectromagnetism originated as a lecture series by the first author at two universities in Finland. It is somewhere between a textbook and research monograph, with the breadth of a textbook, but the absence of problems, worked-out examples, and other features that would make the book suitable as a stand-alone text. The authors say that the book is intended for readers at the second- or third year university level. But few bioengineering students at that level (at least in my own institution) would have the background for this book, which presumes familiarity with electromagnetic field theory and makes heavy use of vector calculus. But it would be an outstanding text for a graduate course in bioelectric phenomena, provided that the students had a good course in electromagnetic theory beforehand and an instructor who is willing to fill in the material.
A central theme of this book is the theoretical relation between fields generated by excitable tissue, such as the heart, to those that can be measured experimentally. Indeed, in fields such as electrocardiography, such theory has taken on a life of its own, with talented engineers developing sophisticated mathematical models for the interpretation of clinical data. The question arises, though, about how one should place these theories in the larger context of engineering and medical science.
Malmivuo and Plonsey raise the issue themselves by beginning the book with a list of 28 Nobel scientists, sharing a total of 16 prizes in physiology or medicine, or chemistry whose work was connected with bioelectricity. Some of these, including William Einthoven (who received the 1924 prize for his work on electrocardiography) motivated an enormous amount of subsequent work, and much of the present volume has its intellectual roots in that tradition. Other work, such as that by David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel (who shared the 1981 Nobel prize for their work on information processing in the visual system) has helped to launch new lines of work by biomedical engineers and physiologists.
But the focus of this book falls somewhere between engineering and science. It is not principally concerned with testing scientific theories against experimental facts, or even directly with the interpretation of medical data. Instead, the book provides readers with theoretical tools for their own work in engineering or science. From a pedagogical point of view that is sufficient. But that is only part of what our students need to know. Another side of the story - how to evaluate the success of engineering theories and devices developed for medical purposes - remains to be written.

Kenneth R. Foster
University of Pennsylvania

IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine, Vol 15, No. 6, November/December 1996, p. 135.


Book Reviews

Bioelectromagnetism: Principles and Applications of Bioelectric and Biomagnetic Fields

By J. Malmivuo and R. Plonsey. Oxford University Press (Oxford and New York), pp. 482.
Price 75. ISBN 019 5058232.

At first sight, reviewing this book was a rather daunting prospect. Not only is there a high ratio of formulae to text, but there is also a table of symbols and units at the beginning of the book that extends to five pages. However, despite these first impressions this is an excellent and thorough book. Although the nature of the material makes heavy for going in places, nearly 300 figures and diagrams punctuate the text and these often illuminate the more complex ideas.
The aims of the book are to review the anatomy and physiology of excitable tissue, explain the theory of bioelectric and biomagnetic phenomena and describe the applications of the theory in physiology and medicine. Right at the beginning, on page 3, the authors separate the concept of bioelectromagnetism from that of medical electronics. This book is about the former, and deals with the physics and physiology of bioelectromagnetic phenomena. Although the methodology of measurement and stimulation are also covered, this book is not the place to look for information on instrumentation design.
So how is the book organized? There are 28 chapters, of varying length. A well- written opening chapter introduces the concept of bioelectromagnetism and traces the history of bioelectromagnetic measurements and therapy. Chapters 2-6 give a review of the anatomical and physiological basis of bioelectromagnetism. Although the authors refer to more specialized texts for an in-depth study, most readers will find the material covered in these chapters to be more than adequate. I was particularly impressed by the quantitative treatment of excitability, an aspect that is often missing from more physiologically angled texts.
Modelling of bioelectric sources and conductors is covered by Chapters 7-10, and the theoretical methods for describing bioelectric and biomagnetic fields are dealt with in Chapters 11 and 12. These six chapters are the main course of the book and, as might be expected given the standing of the authors in this field, they offer rich fare and are a good summary of the state of the art. The material is supplemented by two appendices. One describes the system of coordinates used throughout the book, and the other the application of Maxwell's equations in bioelectromagnetism.
In the remaining Chapters (13-28), the authors review specific applications of the theory developed in Chapters 7-12. The main emphasis is on bioelectromagnetic phenomena in neural and cardiac tissue. While there are highlights, for example the presentation of the theory of ECG leads is outstanding, some of these chapters touch the surface of complex subjects and others seem a bit out of place. For example, impedance tomography is dismissed in a mere eight pages, and the chapter on the ECG manifestation of cardiac arrythmias adds little to this book and reproduces material covered more comprehensively in cardiology textbooks.
Despite this mild criticism, this is an excellent book. It should find a place on the bookshelves of anyone with an interest in the physics of bioelectric or biomagnetic phenomena and promises to be a standard reference work for many years to come.

Richard H. Clayton
Regional Medical Physics Department,
Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne NE7 7DN, UK.

Journal of Medical Engineering & Technology, Volume 20, Number 6 (November/December 1996), page. 235.


Bioelectromagnetism: Principles and Applications of Bioelectric and Biomagnetic Fields

By J. Malmivuo and R. Plonsey. Oxford University Press (Oxford and New York), pp. 482.
Price $97.80. ISBN 019 5058232.

 From the Critics

From Doody Review Services

Reviewer: Jeremy L. Gilbert, PhD (Syracuse University)
Description:This is an interesting new book summarizing the theory and applications of bioelectromagnetism. This book presents details of electromagnetic theory and its applications to the biological milieu. It includes basic cellular, tissue, and organ electromagnetic theory, and instrumentation for measurement.
Purpose:The purpose is to provide present theories as well as a historical background on the development of bioelectromagnetic theory. Included are applications of these theories for subjects like cell membrane potentials, biomagnetic fields, EEG, and ECG techniques. These are very worthwhile objectives toward which the author has made a very credible effort. Audience:This book is intended as a text for upper undergraduate students of physics, mathematics, and engineering. It will be a valuable resource for researchers interested in bioelectromagnetic phenomena. The authors present very through coverage and are very facile with the subject.
Features:The illustrations are clear, well drawn, and very useful in the presentation of the subject. The references appear to be relevant and reasonably current. The table of contents and index are very detailed and thorough.
Assessment:This is an excellent text on the subject of bioelectromagnetism. It is in-depth in terms of the mathematics and theory. It summarizes some of the latest advances in the application of electromagnetic theory and presents a clear historical perspective. This book will serve very well as a standard text on the subject and is highly recommended.

From Jeremy L. Gilbert This is an interesting new book summarizing the theory and applications of bioelectromagnetism. This book presents details of electromagnetic theory and its applications to the biological milieu. It includes basic cellular, tissue, and organ electromagnetic theory, and instrumentation for measurement. "The purpose is to provide present theories as well as a historical background on the development of bioelectromagnetic theory. Included are applications of these theories for subjects like cell membrane potentials, biomagnetic fields, EEG, and ECG techniques. These are very worthwhile objectives toward which the author has made a very credible effort. "This book is intended as a text for upper undergraduate students of physics, mathematics, and engineering. It will be a valuable resource for researchers interested in bioelectromagnetic phenomena. The authors present very through coverage and are very facile with the subject. "The illustrations are clear, well drawn, and very useful in the presentation of the subject. The references appear to be relevant and reasonably current. The table of contents and index are very detailed and thorough. "This is an excellent text on the subject of bioelectromagnetism. It is in-depth in terms of the mathematics and theory. It summarizes some of the latest advances in the application of electromagnetic theory and presents a clear historical perspective. This book will serve very well as a standard text on the subject and is highly recommended.


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1997.01.10